Philadelphia suspends 21 priests
The announcement is the archdiocese’s latest in response to a grand jury report that identified 37 priests suspected of inappropriate behavior with minors, Newsworks reports.
The Grand Jury Report identified 37 cases of concern. In addition to the 21, three priests were placed on administrative leave after the report was released in February.
According to the Archdiocese, five others would have been subject to administrative leave. However, one was already on leave and two who are incapacitated have not been in active ministry. Two others no longer serve in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The Archdiocese says the remaining eight priests will not be subject to administrative leave because the initial independent examination of these cases found no further investigation is warranted.
“These have been difficult weeks since the release of the Grand Jury Report: difficult most of all for victims of sexual abuse, but also for all Catholics and for everyone in our community,” Cardinal Rigali said in a statement.
“As we strive to move forward today,” headded, “I wish to express again my sorrow for the sexual abuse of minors committed by any members of the Church, especially clergy. I am truly sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse, as well as to the members of our community who suffer as a result of this great evil and crime.”
“Since 2005, the Archdiocese has worked very hard and we believed that we were on the right path, making significant progress in the protection of children and in the investigation and handling of abuse allegations. In fact, the present investigation of sexual abuse began as a result of reports from the Archdiocese to the District Attorney’s Office. The 2011 Grand Jury Report, however, presented us with serious concerns that demand a decisive response.”
“That is why I turned to a veteran child abuse prosecutor, Gina Maisto Smith, and asked her to re-examine both the cases of concern for the Grand Jury and the way in which the Archdiocese handles allegations of sexual abuse of minors,” Rigali said in the release.
“Cardinal Rigali’s actions are as commendable as they are unprecedented, and they reflect his concern for the physical and spiritual well-being of those in his care,” District-Attorney Seth Williams told Newsworks.
Archdiocese of Philadelphia places 21 priests on administrative leave (Archdiocese of Philadelphia)